Tories ‘Set to Lose Up To 550 Seats’ in UK Local Election 'Drubbing', Says Poll

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UK elections, selfies - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.05.2022
The UK Conservative party has found itself mired in scandal of late, leaving Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing the possibility of a no confidence vote over fall-out from the so-called “partygate” row, and triggering concerns that disillusioned Tory voters might be prompted to decamp to the opposition.
The UK Conservative party is heading for one of its worst performances in local elections, with a survey predicting it could lose nearly 550 seats.
Voter backlash over the so-called “partygate” scandal, which saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak slapped with police fines over a surprise birthday party for the PM in the Cabinet Room in June 2020, as well as disappointment over the Government’s handling of the cost-of-living crisis are expected by the survey to result in the Tories losing 548 council seats and retain fewer than 980.
The survey, carried out by Electoral Calculus jointly with Find Out Now, is based on the opinion of 1,749 adults in the 201 councils up for grabs on 5 May. It also indicates that the opposition Labour party would end up with 3,500 council seats, representing a gain of more than 800.
The survey even predicts the Tories losing control of such flagship councils as Wandsworth and Westminster, as well as Barnet, Southampton, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Thurrock. The Labour candidates could snap up 16 councils in a six percent voter “flip” from the Conservatives.
On Thursday, 146 councils in England are holding elections, including all 32 of London's boroughs. Elections will also take place in all of Scotland's 32 councils, and all 22 councils in Wales. In Northern Ireland, voters will be electing the 90 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The lead, predicted by the poll, of 15 percent for Labour - with 24 percent voting for the Tories, 39 percent for Labour and 15 percent going to the Liberal Democrats - would represent the largest victory for the Labour party in local elections since the mid-Nineties, The Daily Telegraph noted.
For the Tories, this would be a loss comparable to that of 1996, when Sir Tony Blair led the Labour party in opposition and Sir John Major was the Conservative Prime Minister.
At the time, Labour won more than three times as many council seats as the Conservatives, the Telegraph said.

“The renewed ‘partygate’ focus has made a poor situation for the Conservatives even worse by persuading even more Conservative supporters not to turn out at the local elections. The results could now be bad for Boris Johnson, especially if the Conservatives lose many hundreds of council seats and key flagship councils such as Wandsworth or Westminster,” Martin Baxter, the chief executive of Electoral Calculus, was cited as saying by The Telegraph.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the 10 Downing Street, in London, on April 19, 2022, to give a statement at the House of Commons - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.04.2022
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Further controversy regarding the local elections was sparked on Monday after reports surfaced of an alleged pact between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
The Telegraph reported that leaked analysis showed Labour was standing a third fewer candidates in the Liberal Democrat target region of the South-West than in previous local elections. And in the North-East and North-West of England, which Labour used to regard as its heartlands, the Lib-Dems were reportedly similarly standing fewer candidates than in 2018. Oliver Dowden, the Tory chairman, accused the two parties of plotting to improve each other’s chances.

“This is yet further damning evidence of a murky backroom deal between Labour and the Lib-Dems, quietly trying to stitch up certain seats behind closed doors and deny voters a democratic choice,” Dowden was cited by the newspaper as saying.

The parties denied entering into any formal pact, but the Telegraph cited analysis of candidate lists by community interest group, Democracy Club, which showed that for Thursday’s elections Labour is not fielding a candidate against the Lib-Dems in 131 council wards in England, with more than half of these in the South-East and South-West, a huge rise from the 14 wards in which it stood aside in 2018.
The Lib-Dem have also been shown not to be putting up candidates against Labour in 711 wards rather than 617 in 2018.
A Lib-Dem spokesman was cited as dismissing speculations that the party was deliberately “standing down” candidates as “total nonsense”.

“Parties always allocate resources in pragmatic ways to win as many seats as possible,” the spokesman was cited as saying.

The results of the local elections could fuel further speculation over Boris Johnson’s leadership. The PM, who was out canvassing in Sunderland on Monday, has come perilously close to facing a no-confidence vote.
Tory rebels supposedly plotting to oust him have set the publication of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into “partygate” as the time when they could submit their letters of no confidence in the PM to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee.
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